.Reykjavík and the Northern Lights

Our 4th day in Iceland and we’d hit our second National Holiday: Bolludagur, or Bun day. Remember those bolla treats we had during our first full day? It’s those! Bolludagur starts off a carnival week of sorts where there are three days of festivities, the third day being Ash Wednesday. On Bolludagur, children will carry makeshift sticks with them and attempt to spank their parents while yelling “Bolla! Bolla! Bolla!”. For each successful spank and yell, they receive the treat. With no parents or grandparents around we couldn’t participate in the tradition, but we did see long lines of adults at bakery shops in the morning, prepping for the day!

We left a full day for Reykjavik and had planned to see some museums in the morning then explore downtown and try some traditional Icelandic food in the afternoon- museums however, took a little too much from our wallets (45$ per person !!) so we had to rethink our plans.

To start, we visited the famous Hallgrímskirkja church. Inside is a plain and minimalist take on a cathedral, while the outside is designed to look like the basalt cliffs that cover the country. In front is a statue of Leifur Eiríksson, the first European to arrive in North America (in Newfoundland and half a millenia before Columbus, so I think we need to shift who tends to get the credit here).

We took an elevator to the top of the tower for a viewpoint of the city. We were there early enough that it wasn’t crowded and could spend some time looking at the colorful rooftops, finding our apartment, and admiring the mountains beyond the bay. Once we had had enough, we wandered the streets past an incredible amount of Thai food restaurants and past the famous phallological museum, before taking a seat inside Lemon to split a sandwich for our first snack of the day.

We had a great time in Lemon, not just because the food was good, but it came with a show! From our restaurant seats we had a full view of the street and watched as about 30 people lined up outside of a discount store. There were still about 10 minutes to go before it opened but there was a large group, and it looked to be locals as well as foreigners.. as the doors opened, everyone rushed in. Is Iceland really that expensive that people line up before a discount store opens? On a Monday?? We checked it out later and it really was heavily discounted, although still not enough for me to line up… but we bought some delicious chocolates for friends and family back home there anyhow.

Spencer and I wandered down to the waterfront, up the main street and through different shops – window shopping at it’s finest because everything was out of our budgets. Once we started to get hungry we popped into Loki to split a tasting platter of traditional Icelandic food and a cup of coffee.

Pickled herring with egg and onion on rye bread. Delicious, vinegary from the herring and sweet from the rye bread – it worked very well.

Smashed fish with chives. We don’t know more than that, but it was served warm and also on rye bread… and was also delicious.

Rye bread ice cream with whipped cream. Truly so good!! The rye bread was crumbled up in a thick and creamy ice cream and was a great way to top off the meal !!

As we were walking around we found out about an international film festival happening called Stockfish. We found a movie that sounded the most interesting and I bought tickets while Spencer drew draft after draft of tattoo options. He’s been wanting to get a rune based one for a while now and felt a strong desire while in Iceland to finally give it a go. One beer later and Spencer was ready to get his first tattoo. We later celebrated with weird hot dogs before walking down to the Stockfish movie location.

The hot dogs were ordered “with everything” without us knowing what ‘everything’ included. It turns out that these lamb dogs are served with crispy onions, sweet mustard, raw onion, ketchup and remoulade. The sauces were good but the dog was too weird for me and Spencer happily walked away chomping on two.

Then came the movie… It really did look interesting and we honestly were both keen but when we walked into the large theatre and only 5 seats were filled (including us) we didn’t think we could make it through the full 3 hours. Actually, I fell asleep during it (the movie started at 10 pm and we didn’t know it was 3 hours long until we got there…) so after about an hour and a half we called it quits and decided to walk back to our room.

The night wasn’t clear but the horizon was and as we walked along the waterfront we noticed the greenish northern lights painting the sky. What a treat for our final night and a much clearer image than we’d seen before. We could see the lights dancing and it was the perfect goodbye from Reykjavik. We loved our entire time, the people and the adventures we went on and already can’t wait to come back soon.

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